The Libertarian Tradition

The Milgram Experiment

Milgram reflected on Etienne de La Boetie's key insight about the politics of authority, the will to bondage, and the eager embrace of voluntary servitude. He devised an ingenious test for their influence on the ordinary individual...
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The New Libertarian Generation

The fact is that, exactly as Mark Lilla fears, when people distrust authority in a generalized way and start thinking for themselves, often without much relevant information to guide them, they'll make many decisions that they'll later regret. But whose decisions are they to make?...
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The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle over American History

Author Jill Lepore's view is that it would be better if the Tea Partiers got their facts right. They seem to be just disaffected Republicans.
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Thomas Paine: From Pirate to Revolutionary


Paine became a privateer in 1753 to locate and rob enemy ships in order to escape his family business - corset making. The blunt but brilliant Paine was helped by Benjamin Franklin to join the American Revolution as editor and writer. Common Sense was a huge success...
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Timothy Ferris and Lynn Hunt: The Cause of Liberty

Ferris' book The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature is about the symbiotic relationship between science and liberalism. He thinks science caused liberty. Lynn Hunt's Inventing Human Rights posits that rights are self evident. She thinks the novel caused liberty.
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Vince Miller and the International Libertarian Movement

"In 1982, Vince moved on to building a nonprofit organization to host a series of international libertarian conferences — the Libertarian International."
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Voltairine de Cleyre (1866–1912)

Freethought, de Cleyre wrote, was "the right to believe as the evidence, coming in contact with the mind, forces it to believe. This implies the admission of any and all evidence bearing upon any subject."...
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Was Classical Liberalism a "Strife of Interests Masquerading as a Contest of Principles"?

As Barnes noted, there were a number of "middle-class writers" who took more or less this line, but "by far the most influential" of them "was the 17th-century English philosopher, John Locke. Many of his theories were taken up and popularized in America by Thomas Jefferson...
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William Godwin (1756–1836)


"I ought to exercise my talents for the benefit of others; but that exercise must be the fruit of my own conviction; no man must attempt to press me into the service." —William Godwin
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William Graham Sumner (1840–1910)

Neither Sumner nor Herbert Spencer were social Darwinists - a moniker hung upon them both. What Social Classes Owe to Each Other answers that question with to take care of his or her own self. Minding other people's business is dangerous and wrong.
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